Final four

The Rays and Red Sox took care of business Monday night, leaving us with two complete Championship Series and the next step of October — the final act before the World Series.

B.J. Upton set the tone at U.S. Cellular Field with two homers, the second one blasted right into the teeth of that famous Chicago wind, and Andy Sonnanstine and the bullpen did enough for the Rays to clinch.

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In Boston, two plays helped the Red Sox close out their fourth American League Championship Series appearance in the last six years. The first was catcher Jason Varitek’s clutch putout of Reggie Willits in the top of the ninth on a botched squeeze bunt attempt by Erick Aybar.

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The second was the game-winner off the bat of rookie shortstop Jed Lowrie that sent Fenway into another frenzy.

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Now we get to analyze the next round in detail and prepare for what might be 14 games to decide who’s going to meet in the Fall Classic. Here are my first impressions and predictions:

ALCS: BOSTON VS. TAMPA BAY

As October-tested as the Red Sox are, I think the Rays had to be rooting for them last night. Not only does Tampa Bay now get home-field advantage in this series — the Rays, who had the best home record in baseball this season, wouldn’t have had it against the Angels — but they catch a banged-up Sox team, and those injuries are going to show up a lot more in a seven-game set than they would in five. The Rays handled the Sox well this year and have the pitching and defense to more than hang in there against the resilient defending champs. My prediction: Rays in six.

NLCS: LOS ANGELES VS. PHILADELPHIA

Take whatever you thought about the Dodgers before the Manny trade and chuck it out the window along with that leftover pepperoni calzone from Adrian and Phil’s Pizzeria. (Make sure the calzone lands in the dumpster, of course). This is an entirely different Dodgers team that has been galvanized and re-energized with the presence of that huge bat in the middle of the lineup, and their torrid September and sweep of the Cubs in the first round showed that. Nothing against the Phillies, who are loaded offensively and play well at home, but I’ve got to give a big pitching advantage to the boys in blue, and a big pitching advantage usually gets it done this time of year. My prediction: Dodgers in five.

Now it’s your turn. Let me see your predictions for both Series. We’ve got two days to talk it all over.

O.G.

25 Comments

BIG pitching advantage to the Dodgers? Did you watch ANY of the Phillies games vs. the Brewers at all?

I see the pitching matchup as being very close, much like I expect the series to be.

I like to see new kids on the block(THE RAYS). But I still gotta stick to my original pick (BOSOX in six over LA)!

Come on man, where’s the love for Philly? They have just as good starting pitching as L.A. and, in my opinion, a better offense. The Dodgers are a low ball pitching team, and the Phillies area low ball hitting team. That, plus the cozy confines of Citizens Bank Park, equals a series win for the Phillies. No matter what the outcome, I can guarantee you they will not lose the series in 5 as you predicted. That prediction is just ridiculous.

Of course I would like nothing more than to see the Rays win. And I’ll pick the Dodgers to win in the National League. If that’s the World Series, I like the chances of both teams, but I think the Rays could win all the hardware.Brentonhttp://braverays.mlblogs.com

I like your pairing in the first set. I truly feel that the Rays have a bit of positive karma on their sides from 10 negative seasons. The injury to Mike Lowell is bigger than you might think here. His bat will be missed alot in the middle of that lineup.
On the Rays side, they are peaking at the right time, and are built to win a 7-game series. But the key will be the first 2 games at the Trop. If they win both, you put the pressure squarely on the shoulders of the Bean-town 25.

No way, we said goodbye to Joe Torre last year with the Yankees and get to see him so soon again. I agree that the Dodgers might also be like the Rays and are playing great ball at the right time of the year to win the Cheese-steak-Wheatgrass series in 6 games.
And we get to say Hello to Mr Manny if this holds true………what a joy that would be, he loves hitting at the Trop. Manny has a .136 average at the Trop this year (3-22).

I love the new kids on the block(RAYS) But I still have to stick with my original pick, BOSOX in six over LA!!

I agree that the Dodgers pitching looks strong. Looking foward to seeing our boys in blue stay loose keep swinging the hot bat, minimize the errors on the field.And most of all keep it fun GO!!! DODGERS!!!

ALCS: Red Sox
NLCS: Dodgers
WS: Red Sox repeat
http://metsmainman.mlblogs.com

Dodgers in 6, O.G. triple O.G.

The Big Blue Wrecking Crew are BOSOX WEST(MANNY,NOMAR, AND the LOWEMAN) the Dodgers are peaking at the right time(PLAYOFF TIME)! LA in five games!

To be honest, I have to disagree with both your predictions…

NL: I think the Phillies have just too much offense for the Dodgers’ good (but so far playoff-untested, besides Derek Lowe) starting pitching. Plus, the Dodgers really lose depth after Lowe, Billingsley (is he really a guy to rely on anyway?!) and Kuroda, while the Phils can throw Hamels, Myers, Moyer, and Blanton at you. I predict Philadelphia in five.

AL: Don’t you know how dangerous it is to go against the Sox in October?! I thought the Angels would dismantle them, and it turned out to be the exact opposite. Of course, I have also been doubting the Rays all season, and they have proved me wrong at every turn (!). However, I still think they will be intimidated by the aura of Boston October baseball and lose (albeit in six or seven games).

So, as much as I want to see a Red Sox/Dodgers World Series (what with the whole Torre/Ramirez angle), I don’t think the men in Blue will hold up their end of the bargain.

The way the Dodgers are playing, I’d have to agree with your prediction but, I think it’ll be Sox in Six over Tampa Bay. The Sox really aren’t all that banged up, they’re just without Mike Lowell; fortunately, there are apt replacements. If Ortiz and Pedroia start hitting again, Boston will be fine. Our first three pitchers are better than Tampa’s, we have a better closer and we have a better hitting line-up.

I”m gonna say Red Sox in seven and Dodgers in five. I like the Sox resilience in the post season and the Dodgers fire and pitching. Of course once we get to the World Series, I think it’ll be a sweep by whoever wins the ALCS.

-Sara
http://transnation.mlblogs.com/

I have to say I love the way it looks for our Boys in Blue!!! But the Phillies do have a deep line up? But I?m not worried the Dodger our peeking at the right time! I think Dodgers will take it in 5. And I hope it?s Boston that we see I just think it would be a great series to watch, plus I cant stand Navarro on Tampa he was one of the most arrogant player when he was with the Dodger I?m glad we traded him, even if he was an all star.

Peace and Love
Jessica

It baffles me as to why you use the name “October Gonzo”. Hunter

Who the hell are you? It baffles me as to why you use the name “October Gonzo”. Hunter S. Thompson is rolling in his grave right now. You write nothing like Thompson, and your blog entries are not related to the term “Gonzo Journalism” in any way whatsoever. It seems as if you or MLB chose the name as a way to market you. It worked, I checked your blog, yet your blog entries are piss poor. If I wanted to read lackluster postseason coverage, I would check out Keith Olbermann’s writings. Please take Gonzo out of your name because you are disgracing Hunter S Thompson. Good day to you sir and I hope your writing improves (but I don’t think that will happen this season).

The Rays sure could beat Boston and they proved it. With a hot B.J. Upton the Rays are a much better team plus the Red Sox used all they had against L.A. My pick Rays in 6.

Dodgers are the Beast of the National league and proved it by beating the Cubs. The Phillies don’t stand a chance against the powerful offense of the Dodgers. My pick L.A. in 5.

I agree with the Dodgers but i still think that the BOSOX will win the ALCS. the Red Sox are playoff tested and yeah the Rays won the first series BUT against a White Sox team that depends on Homers. I say the Red Sox in 7.

dodgers 4 phillies 1
boston 4 rays 2

dodgers 4 boston 3

AND EVERYONE SAYING THE DODGERS CANT WIN ARE THE SAME ONES SAYING THEY COULDNT BEAT THE CHICAGO “WE CANT HANDLE THE PRESSURE” CUBS.

GOODNITE

P.S. MANNY TIME

As far as the Rays-Red Sox go, the Sox have the experience in the post-season, but the Rays have the momentum. You have to hand it to Tampa Bay; those guys know what it’s like to lose, and, I think, aren’t taking anything in this post-season for granted. There’s much more at stake for them and I think they’re going to do whatever it takes to come out on top. Though the Red Sox won’t go down without a fight (unfortunately), I definitely think the Rays will emerge victorious. As for the Phillies-Dodgers, I would love nothing more than to see Manny run all over anything the Phil’s pitching rotation has to offer. Plus, LA has the brainpower in legendary Joe Torre. I agree with Gonzo: Dodgers in five.

Well, well, well… I cannot believe my eyes with all of these comments! All I have to write is this fellas: “Who has been the best team in baseball in the last… what, month and a half or so??? Hmmmm, I think they are a blue team, aren’t they? And not an American League team. Hmmmm, that big blue wrecking crew is goana wreck every team they face. Bring out the sledge hammer Dodgers! The boys of summer (Dodgers) have all the momentum and I doubht, seriously, that they are going stop their great play of the game — especially after Furcal is now in the line up. He is the missing piece of the puzzle and, sry my friends; Dodgers win it. I don’t make too many predictions and I can’t say in how many. But I might as well say that they sweep the Phill’s and sweep the BoSox. Just throwing that out there. I know that is very optimistic, but hey… who would have thought they could do that to the Cubbies?

Both series can really go either way. Whoever wins it won’t surprise me. In the NLCS, if I had to give anyone an edge, it would probably be the Dodgers and in the ALCS, I would have to say the Sox although as a Yankee fan and a Florida resident I’m rooting for the Rays.

Phils win it.

hello october gonzo..

i am very consideration philadelphia phillies vs LA dodgers,,
history NLCS 3 previous series.. it’s make possible.. i ‘ll pick cole hamels having chance to pennants NL Championships move to World series..tonight i have seen very impressive how much is mean both of guys ..why i know how my feeling every year October month of my birthday must be 26th on many year on World Series history,, shock one things Matt Stair would afford hit against Dodgers Jothathan Broxton really so good fastball approx 100 mph.. what happens he broke first home run first time by july , 2006 since brotxon never give it up home run.. first series Matt stair thought so can’t home run but make it ! i before told to my friend abt predcation would pick phillies game 5… why they say can’t believe me .. what i did strong love read research on dodgers between phillies .. guess should be if cubbies would nice win world series try next year in 2009… i’d love see chicago will try something break curse something think abt stop all over season… althrough the year… maybe tampa bay meet philadelphia philles sound good game… what if philadelphia win on world series … end drought for 25 yrs parade on philadelphia long times. last time 1983 philadelphia 76ers sweep LA Lakers 4-0 series when i know that same thing philadelphia souls won arena bowl champions are not count for drought philadelphia celebrate.. now waiting on next philadelphia phillies will ride on celebrate world championships bring trophy.. hope so !! thank you october gonzo 9697

dodgers 4 phillies 1
boston 4 rays 2

dodgers 4 boston 3

AND EVERYONE SAYING THE DODGERS CANT WIN ARE THE SAME ONES SAYING THEY COULDNT BEAT THE CHICAGO “WE CANT HANDLE THE PRESSURE” CUBS.

GOODNITE

P.S. MANNY TIME

seem you re wrong pick predcation.. sorry.. boston and dodgers not good enough… philadelphia phillies vs tampa bay rays world series.. but i cannot say who’s win predcation wait few week let you know find out thank you october gonzo9697

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